Message from our Rector, The Revd Mark Lowther
I can’t quite believe that this will be my penultimate ‘pew-sheet top’
(as Claire and I call it). My diary is full of final things – last services in particular churches, last PCC meetings etc etc. But I’ll restrain myself from any farewell thoughts for now and concentrate on looking forward. From the conversations that I have already heard I know that, during the vacancy, our benefice is going to be in safe hands. James will be ‘curate-in-charge’ and I know that he already has plenty of plans forming for the upcoming major occasions in the church diary – from Harvest Festival, via Remembrance Sunday to Advent and Christmas. But he can only do what needs doing with your support and I would ask that you give him that support generously. If you do, I predict that, together, you will really be able to go places.
A final plug for the second and last of the Aldeburgh Friday Markets – August 27th from 10 until 2, with a delicious barbeque available from Midday. At the previous market, on the 13th, it was so good to see representatives from the Friends of Aldringham Church and St Lawrence’s, Knodishall running their own stalls and making some money for their own churches. And, though it was quite unlike any Friday Market we have held before, fun was had, and good conversation enjoyed. A huge thank-you to the organising team, who have dealt so well with the challenges of recent months – and please do come and enjoy all that will be on offer on Friday.
With my love and prayers, as ever
Almighty and everlasting God,
you are always more ready to hear than we to pray
and to give more than either we desire or deserve:
pour down upon us the abundance of your mercy,
forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid
and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask
but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Joshua 24: 1-2a, 14-18
Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors—Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor—lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods. ‘Now therefore revere the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’ Then the people answered, ‘Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; and the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.’
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live for ever.’ He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?’ But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, ‘Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, ‘For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.’ Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’
Sermon for 22nd August – Twelfth Sunday after Trinity,
by The Revd James Marston
Luke 1 46 -55
Today, in our gospel reading, we have just heard Mary’s song of praise – known as the magnifcat – one of the most well-known songs in the Christian tradition, one of the ancient hymns of the faith.
Perhaps time and repetition can dull our senses and it is perhaps a bit too easy to think the mag – as it is known in churchy circles – is simply that bit we say between the readings at evening prayer. But in fact, it is an extraordinary statement and outburst of praise – often reflected in the power of its musical settings.
In this statement, Mary, gives a hint of the gospel before the gospel is written. She outlines the revolutionary message that Jesus’ life death resurrection and ascension actually mean – the lifting up of the lowly, the subjugation of pride, the feeding of the hungry; trusting in great mercy of God rather than in money and wealth.
Thus, the magnificat is also a world changing statement of faith, indeed an early manifesto of Christianity that reflects and heralds the victory of the resurrection long before it actually happens.
And above all, the magnifcat sets the tone for the entire Gospel – because the child Mary bears is bringing something so different, so radical, so life changing, that she’ll be blessed by generations to come. God has looked on her with great favour, even though she’s just a lowly handmaiden.
And there’s more. The Song of Mary is also deeply imbued with Old Testament quotations, verses Mary would have known since childhood. Verses that pointed towards a saviour of the world who would be the fulfilment of ancient prophesies. Mary is not only expressing what is to come but she is also proclaiming what has been spoken about for centuries – the ancient prophesies were true after all.
But the story behind the story, it seems to me, is perhaps something far simpler – that of a mother to be excited about the baby that is to come and sharing that delight with those around her.
And the excitement and joy that Mary experiences flows out off her in an expression of spontaneous gratitude to God. It is a response of worship. Mary is expressing her faith with such confidence her words have been repeated and cherished, set to music and remembered for centuries. Mary is also saying yes to God’s service with deep joy and willingness of heart.
And I think it is from this confidence and this joy that we can draw hope and inspiration.
It seems to me that much of the times we are living through has revolved around a surfeit of insecurity and quite a big dose of fear.
We must be careful not let fear rule and manage our lives. As Christians we are peddlers of a message of hope, as a congregation we are a beacon in our community of confidence in God.
The Song of Mary is a confident expression of hope – that God is here, and he is with us. As a Christian community, the body of Christ in this place, we are called to share the confidence of our faith with the wider community.
This week our Friday markets – and I managed to pick up a nice selection of cheese scones and sausage rolls – showed once again our visible engagement with the community in which we live.
We not only brought the benefice together in relationship and fellowship but showed Aldeburgh and those among whom we live that we are still here, still keeping the faith, still bearers of hope. May we continue to grow in that confidence in the coming weeks and months.
And we are also called, like Mary, to say yes to God with a willing heart and to praise and worship God in thanks and gratitude –it is no coincidence that the theology of Holy Communion service has thanksgiving at its root.
Today as we come together to pray, give thanks, and encourage one another, let us be renewed in our faith, thankful for all we have and all we are, let us say yes to God once again and go out into the world to celebrate in our lives and in all we do, the extraordinary saviour Mary bore.
God of all mercy, in this eucharist you have set aside our sins
and given us your healing:
grant that we who are made whole in Christ
may bring that healing to this broken world,
in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Mark’s Retirement – UPDATED
A huge thank you to all those who have been in contact to reserve seating for the concert and benefice service for Mark’s retirement farewell events. This has been a huge help to let us know your wishes regarding being seated socially distanced, or not. The main objective was to make sure that EVERYONE is comfortable and feels happy when attending a large gathering in one building. We are now fully booked for the Holy Communion Service. A BIG THANK YOU to Ken Smith for arranging the seating plans. No small task.
Tuesday Coffee Morning with Mark & Friends
Our LAST Zoom coffee morning with Mark, will be from 10.30am – 11.30am on Tuesday. All are very welcome. Grab your favourite morning beverage and let’s have a good ole chat.
Please contact email@example.com for the link
The Pilgrim’s will be taking an August break from the Wednesday evening Zoom gatherings. They will be returning on Wednesday 1st September. They continue to worship by The Meare at Thorpeness, this being the last of the summer services this Sunday 22nd at 9.30am. ALL VERY WELCOME
Aldringham Outdoor Services
The services start at 11am in the beautiful Aldringham churchyard. Weather permitting, these services will continue throughout
ALL VERY WELCOME
Food Banks at the East of England Co-op
Foodbanks provide a valuable service to those in need in our communities. The Aldeburgh Co-op and Solar in Leiston are doing a grand job in collecting food donations, which are collected regularly and distributed. So please look out for the various collection baskets.
The Trussel Trust Organisation
Food banks in our network have seen an increase in the number of food parcels given out over the last year due to Coronavirus, so any donations are much appreciated. You can find out which items your local food bank is most in need of by entering your postcode here – https://www.trusselltrust.org/give-food/
01722 580 178 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Friston Compline on Zoom
St Mary’s Compline online services are every Wednesday at 6pm.
All are very welcome.
Please contact email@example.com for the link
Alde Sandlings Benefice Fun Day in August
The next Friday Market is August 27th 10am – 2pm
BBQ, Vegetables, Plants, Fruit and Flowers, Cakes and Savouries, Jams etc, Craft Stalls, General Bric a Brac. Tombola and Games. All the churches in the Alde Sandlings are invited to have their chosen stalls to raise much depleted funds for the churches. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if any church members of the Alde Sandlings Benefice would like to have a stall.
WANTED for Friday Markets
CAKES, SAVOURIES, JAMS, PRESERVES, PRODUCE,
Friston Ride and Stride Information
Ian & Mary Cycle to Raise Awareness of the
Ian & Mary will be cycling 30 miles to visit churches across 16 towns and villages – a challenge but demonstrates the enormity of the energy projects. These are:-
If approved, the construction of these projects will extend over 12 years causing major disruption to residents and visitors, threatening the tourist economy, closing footpaths, and causing environmental damage. Our churches will also bear the brunt of this, with Friston Church being less than 250M from the substation site and threatening the peace and tranquillity of the Churchyard and Church itself.
The route will be a physical challenge for Mary on her “sit-up and beg” bike while Ian, despite his age, still enjoying the adrenaline of a racing bike! If you would like to support Ian & Mary, please contact email@example.com. Alternatively online donations may be made on the Just Giving website at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/St-Mary-Friston
The 2021 Suffolk Historic Churches Ride and Stride
Saturday 11th September 9am-5pm
The Annual Sponsored Ride and Stride is a national event, and every second Saturday in September cyclists and walkers all round the country are out making money for their local county Churches Trust.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and Claire will pass on your details to the team organiser at each church.
Or see the organiser at the church you worship (Fran Smith, Aldeburgh, David Copp, Aldringham, Simon Ive, Friston) where they will be pleased to give you a sponsor form and take your details.
Next week – Sunday 29th August
Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity